The greater Los Angeles County community is grappling with the news of a local teenager passing away due to COVID-19, marking the first death of a minor due to the virus in the United States.
Public health officials announced the teenager’s death Tuesday, but did not specify the age nor gender of the of the child.
The young victim, a teenager from Lancaster, a suburb of Los Angeles, died of septic shock, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times. The teen's father contracted the virus himself, Parris said.
The father had close contact on the job with the public daily," the mayor said. "This is truly awful, to lose a child."
In response, Parris said, he is asking that all children stay indoors, and is working to secure 100,000 test kits.
"They aren't testing hardly anybody," Parris said. "So we aren't going to wait for the county. We are going to provide our own tests."
Two of the people who died were between the ages of 50 and 70. One had underlying health issues and resided in the West Adams neighborhood of L.A., health officials said.
"This is a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages," L.A. County Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said.
The Public Health Department said it was working to confirm whether the case marks the first such death of a minor linked to coronavirus in the country.
Authorities also confirmed an additional 128 cases of coronavirus infection, bringing the county's total to 662. Of those, 42% are in people ages 18 to 40, and 39% are in people 41 to 65.
There were three new deaths announced during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. One was the youth and the other two victims were between the ages of 50 and 70 years old.
Officials announced three more deaths from the virus on Tuesday afternoon, including the child, bringing the death toll in the county to 11 deaths in Los Angeles County, according to Los Angeles County officials. Officials also confirmed an additional 128 cases, bringing the total for the county to 662.
County officials Tuesday also shared a graph exhibiting the exponential rise in recent days. The growth in cases mirrors the health dilemma dozens of American states are witnessing, leading to governors closing businesses and/or ordering residents to limit their outdoor activity to the essentials.
At least 119 residents, or 18% of all positive cases in the county, have been hospitalized for the virus. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was informed by county officials that the Lancaster teen did not have any preexisting conditions. The mayor also rebuffed President Donald Trump's earlier comments that he wanted to quickly ease restrictions and said that Angelenos should be "prepared for a couple months like this."
"I know that everybody is hopeful, and some are putting out that hope of us being back in churches by Easter or synagogues by Passover or restarting the economy in a couple weeks," Garcetti said.
"I think we owe it to everybody to be straightforward and honest. We will not be back to ... that level of normal in that short period of time." Garcetti said that his office is still receiving daily reports of non-essential businesses that continue to operate as normal −behavior he called "irresponsible and selfish."
California has been under a statewide lockdown since last week. The state has reported more than 2,200 cases of the virus as of Tuesday. There have been more than 600 deaths nationwide as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.
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